But regardless of which direction these two clubs are going coming into this weekend's series in Miami, there's no doubt they'll be going there fast.
The Marlins (102) and Padres (88) are the Major League's leaders in stolen bases, as each roster boasts two of the National League's top 10 base stealers. Miami recorded seven stolen bases in a series-ending loss to Atlanta Wednesday. Emilio Bonifacio (26) and Jose Reyes (23) pace the Marlins. That duo also comprises Miami's newly-anointed double-play combination, as Bonifacio is set to slide into the hole vacated at second base by the trade of Omar Infante to Detroit earlier this week.
Center fielder Cameron Maybin (20) and infielder Everth Cabrera (18) lead the Padres, though Maybin has been out of the starting lineup since July 17 with a right wrist injury. Cabrera is a perfect 18 for 18 in stolen bases with San Diego this year, and a perfect 33 for 33 in 2012 if you add his record from two months in Triple-A Tucson.
Those combos will try to propel their respective squads to a big weekend in the midst of the turmoil of the trade deadline. The onus may, indeed, fall on their ability to spark their team's offenses, as the pitching matchup for the series opener on Friday night consists of two veterans struggling to return to form.
The Marlins will turn to Carlos Zambrano, who went just 3 1/3 innings in his last outing, walking six, hitting multiple batters, and throwing 48 strikes out of 97 pitches. Control woes have been an issue for Zambrano all year, something that puzzles as much as it frustrates him.
"I don't know what to say," Zambrano said after his last start. "I'm working hard. I'm doing all my exercises. I'm doing everything ... I'm not pitching the way I'm supposed to pitch. I'm not doing my job. It's terrible."
The Padres will be a sight for sore eyes for Zambrano, as he has dominated San Diego in his career. He owns the second-best ERA among active pitchers (13 starts or more) against the Padres (2.14), the 3rd-best winning percentage (.778), and the 3rd-lowest batting average against (.199).
He'll face off against Kip Wells, whose 2.39 ERA in eleven outings against the Marlins is his best against any team. But Wells, too, has struggled of late, allowing six runs in 4 2/3 innings in his last outing.
Marlins: Solano takes over at third
Ultra-versatile Donovan Solano has emerged as Marlins' manager Ozzie Guillen's choice to replace traded Hanley Ramirez at third for the foreseeable future. The 24-year-old began the season in Triple-A New Orleans, and has played second, short and left field -- in addition to making four starts at third -- since being recalled May 20.
Guillen said he preferred Solano to Greg Dobbs, the only other player to start at third for Miami this season, because he feels Dobbs is a better threat off the bench. That's a reasonable conclusion considering that Dobbs is the Majors' active leader in pinch-hits.
Solano is hitting .322 with five doubles and six RBIs in 32 games. He went 0-for-1 with three walks Wednesday.
Padres: Amarista, Maybin ailing
Infielder Alexi Amarista and center fielder Cameron Maybin were both absent from Wednesday's starting lineup against the Giants due to bumps and bruises that, while not disabled list-worthy, have earned both players some rest.
Maybin's hiatus from the starting nine extends to July 17, a span of eight games. The 25-year-old was a late scratch from the starting lineup July 18 with right wrist soreness, something he has continued to nurse while making a few late-game pinch running appearances over the past week. Padres' manager Bud Black has said he doesn't anticipate a DL stint, but that Maybin "has some action in there."
"He's headed in the right direction," Black said Monday. "It's not going to be a stagnant situation. He's going to get better."
The news is similarly optimistic for Amarista, who was absent from the Padres' starting lineup for the second-straight game Wednesday after jamming his left thumb Monday night. The injury occurred when Amarista slid awkwardly into second base, though it does not appear to be as bad as it could have been.
"He's doing fine ... We think we dodged a bullet there," Black said Tuesday. "He's doing much better.
Both Amarista (left field) and Maybin (center field) entered Wednesday's game as defensive replacements in the later innings. Neither had an at-bat.
The Marlins swept a three-game series from the Padres May 4-6. Prior to that, San Diego had won eight-straight against Miami.
This will be the Padres' first ever trip to Marlins Park. San Diego swept both series in Miami in 2011.
Padres closer Huston Street improved his record in save situations to 17 for 17 with his four-out effort Wednesday in San Francisco. He boasts a 0.95 ERA in 28 innings. By contrast, former Padres, now-Marlins closer Heath Bell is 19 for 25 in save opportunities with a 5.90 ERA in 39.2 innings of work.